Hailsham-based group to compete at Crufts

A group from Hailsham is set to take part in the flyball competition at Crufts.

Established in 2019, Southern Striders was formed through six friends and their dogs who were having a drink at a local pub.

Flyball involves a team of dogs running over hurdles and retrieving a ball as they race against another group.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

A spokesperson from the group said, “We invited other dog lovers to come and try flyball, and we went from our four dogs, to now having four competing teams and 30 dogs.

Hailsham's Southern Striders flyball team SUS-211110-142533001

“Only three years later, we have just achieved our biggest accomplishment yet. We have qualified for Crufts.

“The Crufts competition is very fast and full of border collies and whippet breeds to give speed. Our team defies all the odds. With cocker spaniels and labradors, we truly are the underdogs.”

Southern Striders qualified for the 2022 competition by finishing first at Paws in the Park in Kent.

The group said flyball is an event ‘for all breeds and isn’t just about being the fastest’.

The spokesperson added, “We pride ourselves on training family pets and teaching the technical attributes to be a consistent and trusted team.

“I would like to wish the competing team the best of luck in the competition and we believe we have what it takes.

“Good luck to our box loader, Joe, and all of our handlers: Ian and Bailey, Mark and Ness, Rachel and Secret, Vicky and Taff, Dom and Otis, Natalie and Bailey, and Becky and Obi.”

Club captain Natalie Wiles said, “I really couldn’t wish to step on to that green carpet with anyone else other than my amazing teammates.

“First and foremost, behind everything we do and strive to achieve, is each other. We are a family through thick and thin and I cannot express just how proud I am of all our dogs and handlers to have qualified for Crufts. Whatever we achieve whilst there is just icing on the cake.”